John Romer and the brand new species of amphibians he found in Hong Kong

John Romer found three new species of amphibian in Hong Kong, and all three nonetheless stand as ‘good’ species.

Amolops hongkongensis
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

Taking them so as of date of assortment the primary was described as Staurois hongkongensis. Now generally known as Amolops hongkongensis, the Hong Kong Cascade Frog or Hong Kong Torrent Frog, lives alongside mountain streams and lays its eggs on rocks being splashed by the cascading water. Romer discovered the primary specimens in August 1950 on the mountain, Tai Mo Shan. It’s identified to happen over a lot of Hong Kong and there are additionally reviews from close by areas. In Hong Kong it’s comparatively frequent however it’s categorised by IUCN as ‘Endangered’. Given his contacts in London I all the time discovered it somewhat odd that the outline of the brand new species was with Clifford Hillhouse Pope (1899-1974) of the Chicago Pure Historical past Museum as senior writer. Pope was nicely established as an professional on the herpetofauna of China along with his ebook on amphibians, a companion to his The Reptiles of China nonetheless unpublished. Pope was additionally starting well-known for his semi-popular books. His 1955 ebook The Reptile World appeared in British college and public libraries. The paper by Pope and Romer, 1951, appeared in Fieldiana Zoology, a home journal of the museum.

Boulenophrys brachykolos
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

A small frog discovered on The Peak, Hong Kong Island in August 1952, was subsequent to be described as a brand new species. Once more the specimen was despatched to Chicago. Though the frog was present in 1952, the paper didn’t seem till 1961. The senior writer this time was one other well-known herpetologist Robert Frederick Inger (1920-2019) who had succeeded Pope in Chicago. Inger wrote the favored Dwelling Reptiles of the World in 1957 along with his and Pope’s former boss, Karl Patterson Schmidt (18890-1957). Megophrys (now Boulenophrys) brachykolos or Brief-legged Toad additionally happens over the border in Guangdong. It’s categorised as ‘Endangered’.

Romerus romerus
From Flickr. Picture by Thomas Brown in 2011

The third species, the eponymous Romer’s Frog, was additionally found in August 1952—in a cave beside the ocean on the island of Lamma. However as an alternative of Chicago he despatched specimens to the Pure Historical past Museum in London the place in 1953 they have been described and named for Romer, Philautus romeri by Malcolm Arthur Smith (1875-1958) who labored in a voluntary capability on the Museum.

Romer would have identified Smith personally as a result of he was a driving power behind the formation of the British Herpetological Society and would have grow to be its first Secretary had he not obtained a job as pest management officer within the Hong Kong authorities. Smith was slated as first President. I’ve written earlier than on Smith who was eager on amphibians and reptiles as a toddler however knew the one method he may pursue that exercise was by incomes a residing as a physician. After qualifying at Charing Cross Hospital and follow in London he went off to Bangkok as medical officer to the British Legation. That job was then prolonged to doctor to the royal family of Siam (now Thailand). Throughout his time there he was energetic in pure historical past, amassing specimens and writing accounts of the herpetofauna of south-east Asia. In 1925 on the age of fifty he retired to London the place he was given area on the Pure Historical past Museum. From there till his demise he printed extensively notably on the reptiles of Asia.

Romer’s Frog has carried a succession of generic names. The newest transfer has been to place it together with a number of others species from China into a brand new genus, Romerus. Thus we now have John commemorated by each genus and species, Romerus romerus. I additionally a lot choose the easy frequent identify to others which have come into use like Romer’s Treefrog and Romer’s Bubble-nest Frog. Romerus romerus can also be categorised by IUCN as ‘Endangered’.

I have no idea why he selected to ship specimens the place he did. Did he take recommendation from Smith, for instance, on the place essentially the most experience lay? He definitely despatched a snake to a number one professional in that specific group of snakes when he discovered or obtained the primary specimen in 1966 on the aspect of Tai Mo Shan. The professional was Edmiund Virgil Malnate (1916-2003) an attention-grabbing character who by occupation was a graphic artist however mixed that work with being a volunteer curator on the Academy of Pure Sciences of Philadelphia. The paper by Malnate and Romer on the incidence of the Mountain Keelback, Amphiesma (now Hebius) atemporalis, in Hong Kong was printed in 1969. Till he collaborated with Jean-Paul Risch in debunking the newt that by no means was, his solely co-authors have been Pope, Inger and Malnate.

The Folks

John Romer in Stuttgart, 1977
Clifford H Pope                         Robert F Inger

Anon. 2014. Pope, Clifford H (1899-1974). In Contributions to the Historical past of Herpetology (Quantity 1, revised and expanded), Edited by Kraig Adler, p 94. Society for the Research of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Anon. 2007. Romer, J.D. (1920-1982). In Contributions to the Historical past of Herpetology (Quantity 2), Edited by Kraig Adler, p 212. Society for the Research of Reptiles and Amphibians.

Inger RF, Romer JD. 1961. A brand new pelobatid frog of the genus Megophrys from Hong Kong. Fieldiana—Zoology 39, 533-538

Malnate EV, Romer JD. 1969. A snake new to the fauna of Hong Kong and China: Amphiesma atemporalis (Bourret). Notulae naturae of the Academy of Pure Sciences of Philadelphia  No 424, 1–8.

Pope CH, Romer, JD. 1951 A brand new ranid frog (Staurois) from the Colony of Hongkong. Fieldiana—Zoology 31, 609-6l2.

Smith M. 1953. Description of a brand new species of frog of the genus Philautus, Annals and Journal of Pure Historical past 6, 477-478.

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